Summer Stream Fishing Tips That Will Help You Slay Smallmouth Bass

Summer Stream Fishing Tips That Will Help You Slay Smallmouth Bass


When the recreational boat traffic becomes too unbearable for fishing my home lake, I seek refuge on the smallmouth bass streams in Missouri. 

Floating a smallmouth stream provides the opportunity of having a real good outing in the middle of the day in the heat of summer.  I have noticed fishing patterns on the smallmouth waterways are about the same on most streams, except for some slight variations due to water clarity.

creek fishing
The classic inline spinner is hard to beat in a small creek.

On the relatively murky rivers you can use a lot more power lures like crankbaits, but if the water is really clear you have to go to more finesse type baits such as soft plastics.  

Go Big Or Go Home

feeder creek fishing
creeks are often loaded with smallmouth, largemouth, or spotted bass.

While floating the streams with guides and local experts, I have learned that stream smallmouth can be taken consistently on larger lures with standard baitcast tackle. The experts emphasize that a lot of people make a mistake by fishing with ultralight tackle and really small baits in smallmouth streams. However I have seen these stream experts use bigger baits to catch bigger fish and the bigger baits seem to catch just as many small bass too.  

river fishing point
Look for slackwater, creek mouths, and rocky banks for stream smallies.

Popular Lures For Fishing Streams

A 1/4-ounce spinnerbait is a favorite stream lure for either clear or dirty water situations. A variety of soft plastics, such as spider-type plastic grubs (rigged on 1/8- to 1/4-ounce jigheads), tube baits, jerkbaits and 6-inch plastic worms also produce smallies in the streams. I choose stream lures to imitate crawfish or minnows in four basic colors: brown, white, silver and chartreuse. 

Bumping Up To Baitcasters

While many anglers opt for spinning tackle, don’t look past casting gear when stream fishing.

Even though the stream experts use baitcast tackle, they downsize to 8-pound test line for most of their stream techniques. Spinning gear is best for soft jerkbaits, which you can tie to   4-pound test braided line to prevent line twist.  Buzz baits, topwater poppers and smaller Whopper Ploppers are ideal to throw in the mornings or along shady banks in the afternoon. 

Moving water plays a key role in positioning stream smallmouth, especially in the warmer months. The hotter the weather is, the more likely you are to find the fish in the current right around the riffles.

Little Creeks Can Hold BIG Fish

A smallmouth bass from a small creek in Northern Wisconsin.

Some creeks and streams might appear too small to hold thriving smallmouth bass populations, but the local anglers know better than to judge a brook by its size. I have caught some nice smallmouth while wading in streams I could cast all the way to the far bank. 

When summer days turn steamy, try floating or wading a stream to enjoy a day of solitude and fast action for smallmouth bass.

Popular Creek Fishing Lures

Plastic Worms & Stick Baits
Inline Spinners
Ned Rigs
Topwater Poppers
Plastic Grubs
Small Crankbaits




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